MEDICAL SERVICE, ARMY. An Army Medical Service (Fr., service de sante; Ger., Sanitdtsdienst; It., servizio sanitario; Jap., eisei kimmu) is an indispensable technical branch of the military organisation. On its efficiency the man-power of an army to a great extent depends. Its duties include the care of sick and wounded, the prevention of disease and the preservation of health, the medical examination of recruits, the invaliding of men unfit for further service, the supply of medical and surgical material, the administration of military hospitals and the command, education and training of a personnel for all these purposes. In time of war the collection, evacuation and distribution of battle casualties and the strategical and tactical employment of a variety of medical units for these duties are additional functions of an army medical service.
The army medical service of the British forces is administered by a director-general in the adjutant general's branch of the War Office, with a staff for personnel and mobilisation services, for preparation of statistical reports and consideration of professional questions, and for the supply of medical and surgical material, together with two new directorates of hygiene and pathology which were instituted after the World War in consequence of the lessons of the War and of the scientific advances in the domain of medical research. The director-general also administers the nursing services and the Army Dental Corps, the former through a matron-in-chief and the latter through an Assistant-Director-General (for the Dental Service), at the War Office. He is represented in commands at home and overseas by deputy directors and assistant directors with deputy assistant directors for hygiene and pathology. A similar form of administra tion exists in other armies. In the United States the surgeon general controls not only the medical, dental, nursing, medical administrative and sanitary corps, but also the veterinary corps.
Advisory Boards are composed of military and civil members and are associated with the British Army medical administration. They meet from time to time at the War Office for consideration of general professional policy, questions of hygiene and of patho logical research, nursing services and the co-operation of voluntary aid in war.
The estimated peace establishment of the Royal Army Medical Corps is approximately 85o officers and 3,800 other ranks. They serve in all stations at home and overseas where there are British troops, including India. Their work there is supple
mented by assistant-surgeons of the Indian Medical Dept., f or merly the Indian subordinate medical department, and by natives of an Indian Hospital Corps, formerly the army hospital corps and army bearer corps, who with soldiers trained for hospital duties from combatant regiments formed the subordinate staff of British military hospitals in India before the War. A separate body of officers, the Indian medical service and sub-assistant-surgeons of the Indian Medical Dept. served until the World War with Indian regiments and in regimental hospitals under much the same con ditions as the British regimental medical services of earlier days. Since the World War, station hospitals for Indian troops have been instituted.
The Army Dental Corps, with an establishment of 144 Dental officers is estimated to provide one dental officer for every 600 re cruits and one for every 3,00o trained troops. It is a joint service for the Army and the Royal Air Force. (See DENTISTRY.) Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A. I.M.N.S.) has an establishment of 582 nurses. They serve in the larger military and families hospitals at home and overseas.
The per sonnel is organised in peace to provide a regimental service, one field ambulance for each division of the Territorial Army, three general hospitals and fifteen Field Hygiene Sections organised for peace training into four Field Hygiene Companies. These are field service units and form a cadre for the training of the R.A.M.C. (T.A.). Previous to the World War the Territorial Force had three field ambulances, one casualty clearing station and one sanitary section for each division, together with 23 general hospitals. The reduction therefore in Territorial Army R.A.M.C. units since the War has been considerable. An establishment of 2,000 other ranks is organised to provide trained personnel to staff military hospitals in England on the outbreak of war when the regular Royal Army Medical Corps personnel is withdrawn, and to furnish reinforcements for an expeditionary force. The number of medical officers (1924) was 939, of dentists 155, of nurses 675 and of veterinary officers 124. In continental armies with con script service the fixed establishments for medical services cannot be computed for purpose of comparison on the same basis as those of the British and American voluntary armies.